Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

It’s fragmented, but finished!

Written by: on February 22, 2019

Imagine this…it’s 5:30am, Mountain Standard Time, and I’m up early because of the time change (It’s 7:30am EST at home).  I’m staying in an adorable Airbnb in the footballs of the Rocky Mountains – and I have a room with a view – overlooking a lake with the mountains in the distance.  The “super snow moon” is shining so brightly I thought the sun was rising.  I sit down to compose my blog (trying to accomplish this before I leave for a conference at 7am) and review some online critiques.  It doesn’t take long for my head to start spinning.  The texts this week (The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, by Noll) are heavily based in Theology.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn about Theology, discuss Theology (with a good debate) and I understand the value of Theology.  But it doesn’t come as easily to me to write from a Theology construct because it is outside of my expertise.  There is one significant theme that did pique my interest – the insinuation that evangelicalism is not academically grounded with research (which happens to be one of evangelicalism’s greatest weaknesses according to the author).

Now it’s 1:50pm, MST, and I’m finally getting a few minutes to turn my reflection back to these texts for the week after attending my morning conference sessions.  I’ve traveled to Colorado to conduct field research at the National Character and Leadership Symposium at The United States Air Force Academy.  In full disclosure, Jake and Jenn have joined Ron and me for this incredible event.  To put it lightly, the morning has been phenomenal.  I am inspired!

In deciding to conduct field research here, I was excited by the advertised theme of “Leadership, Teamwork, and Organizational Management.”   Of course this theme is pertinent to growing my personal leadership skills…but it would also challenge me to utilize organizational leadership skills in my collaborative relationships with the Somali refugee stakeholders in Columbus, Ohio.  According to the conference materials “This year’s NCLS speakers’ stories will focus on the value, successes, and challenges of leadership at the personal (leading oneself), interpersonal (leading one or more people), team (leading a group towards a common goal), and/or organizational (leading an organization embedded within a larger institutional environment) levels.”[1]  Speakers include scholars, military leaders, corporate executives and world-class athletes.  Some of the phenomenal speakers presenting include Dr. Brené Brown, Catharyn Baird, Leon Panetta, et.al.[2]  You are probably wondering how all this background connects to this week’s blog.  Well, here goes – one of the first speakers of the day, (and it’s now 6:45am Friday) Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright (and known by his Airman as Jesus of the Airforce because he’s amazing), presented an inspiring message on leadership – to sum it up he states “ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP” – “Your people’s attitude is a direct reflection of your leadership.”  He went on to share several compelling requirements for leading – and I found them accurate, insightful, and pragmatic.  They include:

  • Character – your personal ethos and values matter. Live with integrity and the heart to serve.  Live honorably.
  • Attitude – leadership requires a positive attitude – keep your people focused (because if there is a negative attitude, focus is non-existent)
  • Discipline – create good habits, live a disciplined life every day – never expect anyone under you to live a disciplined life if you aren’t doing so yourself.
  • Excellence – ask yourself how you can be great today. Excellence is not a single act, it’s what we do continually (love this)
  • Teamwork – be part of something bigger than yourself – If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together African Proverb
  • Speak truth to power
  • Emotional Intelligence is essential – recognize your own personal “stuff”, recognize other’s “stuff”, recognize/acknowledge social challenges
  • Credibility (I’m finally to the sweet point connecting to Noll’s books) –
    • Deliver results
    • Be transparent
    • Make tough calls
    • Be consistent
    • Lead by example
  • Work/life harmony – learn to say no, learn to unplug, focus on progress not perfection, exercise and meditate, be present, make time for fun
  • Social media – be in, or be out (use it wisely, but if you use it do it for good)
  • Put your mask on first – just like during an airplane emergency, you can’t help other’s if you don’t get oxygen for yourself first.

As an Evangelical Christian, I believe part of my (and all Christians) calling is to leadership.  Of all the critical leadership traits identified by Wright above, Noll is specifically targeting the lack of credibility by evangelicals.  So does his insinuation have merit?  If so, in what way?  I personally am always looking for data, research, and expert writings inspired by research.  While I know and understand that faith is exactly the opposite – trusting the unknown and believing without proof – Christians have earned a reputation for hypocrisy.  So perhaps the truth is that evangelicals do owe the world increased credibility.  If our lived faith isn’t enough (because let’s be honest we aren’t always “performing” as we should) evangelicals need to find ways to produce evidence and research where we feasibly can.  Look at Brené Brown’s (as you know she’s someone I highly respect) rise to “fame” (which she abhors).  She has one of the most watched TED Talks, five best sellers, and is at the table with the top CEO’s at corporations all around the world…all because she invested time and energy into doing research into human behavior.  LGP8 – WE are part of this solution.  Next year we will provide the world with 15 more research informed dissertations.  Oh, and did I mention I met Brené yesterday?


[1] https://www.usafa.edu/character/national-character-leadership-symposium-ncls/

[2] https://www.usafa.edu/character/national-character-leadership-symposium-ncls/2019-ncls-speakers/

About the Author

Jean Ollis

14 responses to “It’s fragmented, but finished!”

  1. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Jean!

    Congratulations on meeting Brene Brown! I hope Jake met her, too. What an amazing opportunity…

    Thanks for the leadership lesson, and from a phenomenal source, the Jesus of the Air Force.

    Now, let’s get to work on the dissertation research…

    • Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Jay! Yes, Jake met Brene also. I can’t reiterate how incredible this conference was. I walked away completely inspired.
      I had a hard time connecting my research to these books the past few weeks. I hope the next few books get me back on track 🙂

  2. Great post, Jean!

    It looks like you all are having a blast by your pictures!

    You suggest, “While I know and understand that faith is exactly the opposite – trusting the unknown and believing without proof – Christians have earned a reputation for hypocrisy. So perhaps the truth is that evangelicals do owe the world increased credibility.” Is faith the opposite or is it the fulfillment? As I looked at Noll’s texts this week, I was drawn to the idea that Jesus is constantly making Himself visible through varied presentations. That could be through nature, intellectual discussion, scientific discovery or simply a good book. However, regardless of the way that He makes Himself known, He continues to do so consistently and personally. Do you find that faith is found in a blind trust or enlightened revelation? Does our faith increase the more we question?

    • Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Colleen! Thanks for posing some great questions – I think I really need to think about that. I even looked up the definition of “faith”
      complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
      “this restores one’s faith in politicians”
      synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, conviction, credence, reliance, dependence; More
      strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

      I guess I would conclude that I’m speaking from definition number 2, while you’re speaking from definition #1?

  3. Hi Jean,

    I think you’re onto something with the idea of credibility. Evangelicalism has lost much credibility in the eyes of the general public because of its failure to grapple with truths and reasoning evident through science. Saying “I believe it because the Bible says it” isn’t enough. As I mentioned in another blog comment elsewhere, traditional evangelicalism has been constrained by a literalistic approach to interpreting Scripture which leads it to abandon the mind. That indeed is scandalous and is one of the reasons for the mess we’re in.

    I’m thrilled you were able to fly to Colorado and have such an inspiring weekend with Jake and Jenn!! How fun. And Brene!!!!!! 🙂

    • Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Mark! Thanks for your feedback and your support of the need for increased credibility. We had such a great conference – probably the best I’ve ever been to. Looking forward to connecting tomorrow!

  4. Dan Kreiss says:


    You are an evangelical and an academic so Noll would be pleased to know you. I think his encouragement with these texts was to give some historical context to the situation as found in the US and encourage the evangelical church to re-engage with the academic community from a Christian perspective. The reason we have been so easily dismissed is because many have withdrawn from the debate arena to play the defensive game. Your own commitment to intellectual rigor, especially as it regards your area of interest, is exactly what is needed.

    I didn’t know that the Rocky Mountains had their own footballs. 🙂

    • Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Dan! Thanks for your vote of confidence that I’m an academic :). And thank you also for pointing out by big typo! Yikes! You too fulfill this calling according to Noll – I really appreciated you highlighting the defensive game evangelicals are engaged in. What your potential solutions?

  5. It was fun hearing about how this post was developing while in CO and was privileged to be at the same conference as you and be inspired and impacted by the amazing speakers, it was truly life-changing. Reading your post was far more interesting than the books this week and we sure did enjoy our time with you and Ron (tons of fun memories).

    I also couldn’t help but crack up when I read Dan’s comment above mine highlighting your typo about the Rocky Mountain footballs 🙂 (that must have been before your brain got online 🙂 ) Great post Jean!

    • Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Jake! Oh geesh, staying in the footballs in Colorado. You are right my mind was not clicking well most of those days! We are so lucky to have experienced such an amazing conference. I’m still processing it all! One thing is for sure, I’m inspired and motivated to integrate new strategies!

  6. Chris Pritchett says:

    Hey Jean thank you for your reflection. I really enjoyed hearing about your time in Colorado. Wow. It sounds beautiful. Also, I appreciated the leadership qualities spoken by the Sergeant. These are helpful and worth writing down.

  7. Dave Watermulder says:

    Hi Jean,
    Thanks for sharing about this awesome conference that you got to attend. It sounds like you learned a lot and well-done building a foot-bridge from what was exciting to you this week, and the reading that you had to touch on :). I think you are right that part of Noll’s point was that evangelicals don’t have credence when it comes to leading in many academic areas. And it will take enormous amounts of work to change that perception (which I think really reflects how reality has been). Anyway– fun to hear about this experience!

  8. Shawn Hart says:

    Thanks for the motivating reminder that we are part of the solution…I believe we need that kind of reminder daily as Christian leaders. I always get reminded of the minivan with the “fish” logo promoting her Christianity to the world…as she threw her hand out the window to “flip off” the car that passed her. I suppose the “Oh how I love Jesus” mentality does not have to work in rush hour traffic in our town of 22000.

    One of the items on Noll’s list that you posted was, “Emotional Intelligence is essential – recognize your own personal “stuff”, recognize other’s “stuff”, recognize/acknowledge social challenges.” As a personal question for you this week, how do you recognize your “own personal stuff” in your ministry?

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